Abstract:  As in many other countries, means tested benefits constitute an important part of the Swiss old age security system and disability insurance. In contrast to universal benefits, such targeted transfers are intended to only support the ones in need and thereby lead to low level of public expenses. However, individuals face strong incentives at various stages in life to adapt their behavior in order to become eligible. Using the Swiss Ergänzungsleistungen as an example, we argue that means tested benefits increase the incentive to apply for disability benefits, raise the attractiveness of early retirement, and induce individuals to favor a lump sum payment over an annuity. Moreover, they decrease the incentive to purchase private long-term care insurance.